Hubbub has gone into hibernation.

Week 323

This was an impor­tant week for Free Birds. We reviewed the lat­est sprint with the client and sub­se­quent­ly released the release can­di­date (I know!). Only one more sprint to go before we can “go gold”. We also planned this next and final sprint and received a green light soon after.

Mean­while we made a care­ful start with the con­cept for project HENDO, most­ly by review­ing my notes from the first three co-cre­ation ses­sions.

I blogged a lec­ture about play­ful design for activism from the start of this year.

Alper has start­ed open-sourc­ing some of our old­er projects over on GitHub.

I end­ed the week by attend­ing a Hack­ing Habi­tat lec­ture by Evge­ny Moro­zov on Thurs­day evening and par­tic­i­pat­ing in the work­shop con­nect­ed to it on Fri­day, delv­ing into the nature of con­tem­po­rary bureau­cra­cy and how indi­vid­u­als might curb it to their advan­tage.

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‘Playful Design for Activism’ at E-Motive Day 2015

At the start of this year I was invit­ed to demo Stand­ing and to speak at E-Motive Day, a join­ing of inno­v­a­tive civ­il soci­ety organ­i­sa­tions inter­est­ed in (as they put it) North-South exchanges.

In my lec­ture I talked about how Stand­ing works and why it is inter­est­ing for civ­il soci­ety organ­i­sa­tions (or NGOs). I also talked about why I think NGOs should stop think­ing in terms of cam­paigns and start think­ing in terms of prod­ucts.

Below is an adap­ta­tion of what I said that day and some of the slides I used. I will skip the first part in which I gave the usu­al intro­duc­tion of Hub­bub and also plugged Bycatch, which was still in pre-release back then, and will dive right into my intro­duc­tion of Stand­ing.

Standing

Stand­ing is an app for play­ful activism. You can down­load the app on the Apple app store, and check the web­site on getstanding.com.

How to use Standing

How to use Standing

How to use Standing

Here is how it works. You start by enter­ing a cause you would like to stand for. Then you press and hold a but­ton. A counter starts run­ning. You need to keep hold­ing the but­ton, and not move, or the app will end the ses­sion. Once you are done stand­ing, you can share your stand­ing ses­sion with the world.

Stand­ing wo/man protests in Istanbul

Why did we make Stand­ing? We start­ed in the sum­mer of 2013. (Sounds like a long time ago!) We had been inter­est­ed for some time in the use of social media for activism. Peo­ple appro­pri­at­ing tech­nol­o­gy for their own ends. Then the Arab Spring hap­pened. And the stand­ing wo/man protests hap­pened in Istan­bul. It start­ed as a joke: can we make an app for stand­ing still? But then we decid­ed to take the joke seri­ous­ly, and actu­al­ly make it.

Some­where between sign­ing an online peti­tion and walk­ing in a demon­stra­tion

What is inter­est­ing about Stand­ing? It is a con­tri­bu­tion to the dis­cus­sion around click­tivism. It sits some­where between sign­ing an online peti­tion, and walk­ing in a demon­stra­tion. It requires more effort than the for­mer, but less than the lat­ter. It is also a digital/physical hybrid. So it plays with the cat­e­gories of activism we are inclined to think inside of.

Salvador Breed playing a set of music to stand to

It is also play­ful because it is not instru­men­tal. The act of stand­ing, if you try it, you will find it is plea­sur­able in and of itself. I am not say­ing it is nec­es­sar­i­ly fun but it cer­tain­ly is an inter­est­ing expe­ri­ence, with­out nec­es­sar­i­ly requir­ing instru­men­tal out­comes. This is why when we launched the app at Media­mat­ic we decid­ed to do a stand-in last­ing half an hour and invit­ed a Sal­vador Breed to play a set of music to stand to.

'Africa? There's an app for that' at Wired.co.uk

We are also ‘play­ing with’ the fact that apps are used by com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ments as tools for per­sua­sion and con­trol. We are appro­pri­at­ing the con­cept of the app, and also pok­ing fun at the fal­la­cy that all world prob­lems can be solved with apps.

Standing for peace

And Stand­ing is open-end­ed. It invites peo­ple to play­ful­ly express them­selves. We see this in the vari­ety of caus­es peo­ple stand for. They range from the per­son­al to the glob­al and the seri­ous…

Standing for kabeltruien (cable sweaters)

… to the friv­o­lous.

So Stand­ing is an app for play­ful activism. It offers a play­ful alter­na­tive to old and new cat­e­gories of civic action. It play­ful­ly offers a plea­sur­able expe­ri­ence. It play­ful­ly gives rise to per­for­mances. It play­ful­ly pokes fun at ‘there is an app for that’. And it lets peo­ple play­ful­ly express them­selves. We start­ed it our­selves because we want­ed to have an exam­ple of this kind of prod­uct, and as an exper­i­ment.

Digital Transformation, Playful Design, and Activism

Why should you care? Because we at Hub­bub think that NGOs will need to start shift­ing from think­ing in terms of cam­paigns, to think­ing in prod­ucts. Let me explain.

‘Dig­i­tal’ is trans­form­ing all aspects of soci­ety, and also organ­i­sa­tions. Organ­i­sa­tions will either become dig­i­tal, or be replaced with ones that are.

Pow­er with­in dig­i­tal organ­i­sa­tions will nat­u­ral­ly shift from mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions to ser­vices and prod­ucts.

Why is this? Because dig­i­tal enables direct inter­ac­tion with your audi­ence or users or the pub­lic. It is dig­i­tal prod­ucts and ser­vices that this inter­ac­tion is medi­at­ed by. Also, the dig­i­tal prod­ucts peo­ple use every­day con­di­tion their expec­ta­tion of inter­act­ing with your organ­i­sa­tion.

Thunderclap

So in the case of NGOs we think it makes a lot of sense to invent prod­ucts that enable peo­ple to work with you towards com­mon goals.

And we think at least some of these prod­ucts should be play­ful, like Stand­ing.

'Stapler in the Jelly', The Office

Because to play is to be human, engaged with the world. It is the way in which peo­ple explore the free move­ment with­in more rigid sys­tems. As with pranks in the office, it is a way to appro­pri­ate a con­text and in the process bring free­dom to it. To make it per­son­al.

Provos carrying blank banner

Play­ful activism has always done this. To play­ful­ly sub­vert the rules of soci­ety.

Sit-in organized at a Nashville lunch counter in 1960

And in some cas­es, it has been a pow­er­ful force for change.

But even in the cas­es in which it has not brought sweep­ing change, each and every act of play has always had mean­ing on a per­son­al lev­el. And for me, that is already a lot.

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Week 322

Anoth­er sim­ple week in terms of stuff going on.

We devot­ed the vast major­i­ty of our time to Free Birds, putting the fin­ish­ing touch­es on the release can­di­date. We’re get­ting real­ly close to the fin­ish line now and its a plea­sure to be able to tune and tweak things to make them just right.

I also demoed the game to a cou­ple of inter­est­ed muse­ums on Wednes­day and got nice respons­es from them.

Jump­ing back a bit, on Tues­day I head­ed over to Ams­ter­dam again to attend the third State of Flux co-cre­ation work­shop.

Final­ly, Alper played around with Ethereum at a work­shop on Thurs­day.

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Week 321

This week we had our heads down and kept mak­ing good progress in the Free Birds release can­di­date. Alper wrote code more or less the whole week and I split my time between sketch­ing user inter­faces and map­ping out what parts of the app need to be localised for each muse­um which decides to adopt our lit­tle game.

Not much else of note hap­pened, to be hon­est. It was one of those rare sim­ple weeks. So I’ll leave it at that.

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Week 320

This week was a change of pace from the few qui­et ones pre­ced­ing it: plen­ty of meet­ings, work ses­sions and events with project work pick­ing up again as well.

On Tues­day, I head­ed to Nijmegen to close off project KOKORO with the client. KOKORO is a dig­i­tal coach for ado­les­cent men­tal health. We reviewed the final ver­sion of the pro­to­type we cre­at­ed and made note of ideas it sparked for futu­ture prod­uct devel­op­ment. We also dis­cussed what good next steps might be for the client, who are keen to take our direc­tion and push it fur­ther.

Lat­er that day I head­ed to the Buik­sloter­meer area of Ams­ter­dam Noord to be present as an observ­er at the sec­ond State of Flux co-cre­ation ses­sion. As usu­al it was a plea­sure to be sur­round­ed by a huge­ly diverse group of peo­ple all intent on improv­ing their own neigh­bour­hood. And once again we were served amaz­ing food cooked by locals (Suri­namese-Javanese in this case).

Second State of Flux co-creation session in Buikslotermeer, Amsterdam Noord

Mean­while Alper attend­ed Talk & Play to meet Luke Crane of Burn­ing Wheel fame and to play his game Mouse Guard: Swords & Strong­holds. Luke is also head of games at Kick­starter and has self­less­ly cham­pi­oned Bycatch in the US table­top gam­ing scene, so it was a real plea­sure to see him.

This week we also kicked off the first sprint of the third and final phase of Free Birds’ devel­op­ment. Free Birds is a muse­um game about civ­il rights. This sprint is main­ly focused on get­ting a release can­di­date in shape, which includes mak­ing adjust­ments to the app so that it can be used in mul­ti­ple muse­ums simul­ta­ne­ous­ly.

Thurs­day was anoth­er busy day. I par­tic­i­pat­ed in a work­shop at Free­dom­Lab aimed at devel­op­ing a con­cept for a seri­ous game about cor­po­rate social respon­si­bil­i­ty. That same evening, I head­ed to Pakhuis de Zwi­jger to deliv­er a talk at the event ‘New Plan­ning Meth­ods’, which I sub­se­quent­ly wrote up.

Placard 'WHO OWNS THE CITY?' at Pakhuis de Zwijger, Amsterdam

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New Planning Methods

This is a write­up of my talk at the event ‘Nieuwe Plan­ningsmeth­o­d­en’ (‘New Plan­ning Meth­ods’) in Pakhuis de Zwi­jger, Ams­ter­dam on Octo­ber 8, 2015.

Hel­lo. My name is Kars Alfrink. I am a design­er and part­ner at Hub­bub, a small play­ful design agency, based in Utrecht and Berlin.

Hub­bub helps organ­i­sa­tions do things with games, play and play­ful­ness. We make playable things with which you can improve your­self and the world around you.

Since the begin­ning of Hub­bub we have been inves­ti­gat­ing what game design can con­tribute to life in cities.

This is also the sub­ject of a chap­ter I con­tributed to the book ‘The Game­ful World’ which was pub­lished ear­li­er this year by MIT Press.

Parkour, Pieces of Berlin, Cruel 2 B Kind and L.A.S.E.R. Tag

In my chap­ter ‘The Game­ful City’ I talk about five dif­fer­ent ways in which peo­ple can use play­ful tools to improve their liv­ing con­di­tions. I call them appro­pri­a­tion, de-famil­iari­sa­tion, social­i­sa­tion, sub­ver­sion and for­ma­tion. This last one, for­ma­tion, is what I will go into a lit­tle bit more now because it is most rel­e­vant to our sub­ject.

Creations by James Rojas workshop participants

For­ma­tion is about peo­ple using play­ful tools to active­ly shape their liv­ing con­di­tions. There are great exam­ples of new plan­ning meth­ods that try to achieve this. When I was writ­ing my chap­ter I was main­ly look­ing at meth­ods that enable peo­ple to express their ideas about space.

Open Source City, Rezone, State of Flux and Play the City

Oth­er meth­ods try to achieve things like: visu­al­is­ing and mak­ing acces­si­ble what can be mea­sured about space, edu­cat­ing peo­ple about bet­ter ways of spa­tial plan­ning, and fos­ter­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion between those inhab­it­ing a space and those plan­ning it.

All of these approach­es increase the diver­si­ty of par­tic­i­pants in the plan­ning process. This is good because it offers a coun­ter­bal­ance to the ten­den­cies of insti­tu­tions to impose order from above on what they per­ceive as messy real­i­ty on the ground. More diver­si­ty leads to more resilience and live­abil­i­ty. I am very much in favour of this. Who wouldn’t be?

I have a big con­cern though. It applies to most meth­ods I just men­tioned but in my chap­ter I specif­i­cal­ly talk about the play­ful plan­ning tools for col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly express­ing ideas about new and exist­ing spaces.

The con­cern is this: When the par­tic­i­pants are done play­ing and the plan needs to be turned into real­i­ty, how do we pre­vent peo­ple from going back to busi­ness as usu­al? It is like­ly that old pow­er struc­tures will reassert them­selves. The dan­ger is that our new plan­ning meth­ods are sim­ply used to get buy-in from peo­ple after which they are no longer a full part­ner in the pro­ceed­ings.

So I am inter­est­ed in mak­ing our new plan­ning meth­ods a lit­tle bit more dan­ger­ous to the sta­tus quo. Giv­ing them real teeth. All in the inter­est of effect­ing wide­spread and sus­tained change.

For this to hap­pen, design­ers of new plan­ning meth­ods must con­sid­er pol­i­cy as a mate­r­i­al to work with. I’m think­ing of tools that pro­duce new ways of organ­is­ing plan­ning, in of stead tools that pro­duce new plans.1

One source of inspi­ra­tion would be Nom­ic, a game in which chang­ing the rules is a move. It was cre­at­ed to illus­trate the reflex­iv­i­ty of law. Imag­ine a new plan­ning method that mod­els cur­rent plan­ning pol­i­cy and asks par­tic­i­pants to then make changes to it. The out­comes can then be used as a start­ing point for imple­ment­ing actu­al pol­i­cy changes.

An exam­ple of design­ers dar­ing to grap­ple with pol­i­cy is Play­ful Com­mons. This is a project to cre­ate new per­mis­sive licens­es for pub­lic space. Think Cre­ative Com­mons but for space. Here are urban design­ers and game design­ers who con­sid­er pol­i­cy, law, rules as a mate­r­i­al.

So that’s one way to give our meth­ods more teeth. But I think we should also look beyond any sin­gle method. We’ve got all these great new ways of plan­ning. It’s real­ly excit­ing and there seems to be real momen­tum in this area in the Nether­lands. Now I think it is time to start con­nect­ing the dots.

Conceived, perceived and lived space

We should try to close the loop between meth­ods that focus on con­ceived and per­ceived space, and meth­ods that focus on lived space.2

3D Print Canal House, Straatlokaal, Godsbanen and The Harbor Laboratory

To be more spe­cif­ic, I am think­ing of all the things that are hap­pen­ing in dig­i­tal fab­ri­ca­tion, tem­po­rary pro­gram­ming, tem­po­rary build­ing, and new spaces for cre­ative work. I am won­der­ing what might hap­pen if we take these things and con­nect them with the new plan­ning meth­ods I’ve been talk­ing about so far.

What excites me is to think about cre­at­ing per­ma­nent spaces in our cities where experts and non-experts alike can come togeth­er to plan, pro­to­type and eval­u­ate new ideas for improv­ing our sur­round­ings at a 1:1 scale. For lack of a bet­ter word let’s call them ‘Space­Labs’. Per­ma­nent places for the con­vivial pro­duc­tion of space.

New embodied and social planning methods

Such Space­Labs con­nect work­ing with con­ceived space and per­ceived space with lived space. They con­nect plans we make for new spaces and obser­va­tions we make about exist­ing spaces with the sub­jec­tive expe­ri­ence of spaces. Now all of a sud­den our new plan­ning meth­ods become embod­ied and social.

We have all these new plan­ning meth­ods now. And they are great. Now, I invite us all to take them and to start build­ing a new plan­ning prac­tice.

Thank you!

Links to Projects Referenced in Slides

  1. Hill, Dan. Dark Mat­ter and Tro­jan Hors­es: A Strate­gic Design Vocab­u­lary. []
  2. Soja, Edward W. Third­space: Expand­ing the Geo­graph­i­cal Imag­i­na­tion. []
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Week 319

Not much to report this week.

For Free Birds we made plans for the next sprint, writ­ing user sto­ries and groom­ing our back­log. We hope to start the work on this soon.

For TEDASUKE I had a final meet­ing with our client SodaPro­duc­ties and talked through their next steps with them, in par­tic­u­lar what to look out for when hir­ing an agency.

I final­ly got around to writ­ing up the work we did on Cam­parc. It was fun going through the archives and see­ing all the effort put in by the team. It was hard to boil it down to 1000 words, but I man­aged.

On the social front, I went over the the annu­al Dutch indie games exhi­bi­tion ‘Indi­go’ to catch up with friends from that scene and to get a feel for the state of the art. In my opin­ion Cha­lo Cha­lo, Met­ri­co+ and Unfat­ed lead the pack.

In Utrecht, the week was closed off drinks at the month­ly Vecht­club XL ‘bierk­lub’, soak­ing up the final rays of sun on what was prob­a­bly one of the last love­ly evenings of the pro­longed indi­an sum­mer we’ve been hav­ing.

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Making Camparc

This is a write­up of how we went about mak­ing Cam­parc, a panoram­ic cam­era ball.

The sto­ry starts in July 2014 when STRP asks us to make a pub­lic space game for a ‘scene’ — one of the events lead­ing up to their 2015 bien­ni­al. They were look­ing for some­thing eye-catch­ing, acces­si­ble to a broad audi­ence, fun for both par­tic­i­pants and spec­ta­tors, and of course it would need to be about tech in some way. The game would be played in the Stri­jp-S area of Eind­hoven, the Nether­lands.

We cycled through a num­ber of con­cepts togeth­er. An ear­ly idea was focused on doing things with large balls and maybe track­ing them with cam­eras. A lat­er con­cept was titled ‘Self­i­etopia’ and pro­posed a play­ground filled with cam­era toys for mak­ing self­ies with.

Selfietopia

Camparc sketch

Ingre­di­ents from those ear­li­er con­cepts came togeth­er in Cam­parc: cam­era toys such as Panono and Bubl. New ways of see­ing such as goal-line tech­nol­o­gy. The plea­sure of play­ing with a huge ball in both Kata­mari Dama­cy and the earth ball games of the New Games move­ment.

Camparc moodboard

It was our hope Cam­parc would let peo­ple play­ful­ly explore new ways of tech­no­log­i­cal­ly aug­ment­ed see­ing, and that it would give peo­ple a tool with which to explore the Stri­jp-S area in new ways.

Many dif­fer­ent things had to come togeth­er in the final expe­ri­ence. For exam­ple, get­ting a video stream from the balls to show up on an LED trail­er turned out to be non-triv­ial. But here I will talk about the design of the hard­ware and I will also go into how we cre­at­ed anamor­phic puz­zles for peo­ple to play with.

The Gilliam-Dyson Direction

So the start­ing point was to do some­thing with big balls. We went on a hunt for a good base and even­tu­al­ly set­tled on water balls. They are large, trans­par­ent and afford open­ing and clos­ing. Per­fect for our pur­pos­es.

The notion of trans­paren­cy and see­ing the tech inside of the ball lead to a direc­tion for the visu­al lan­guage which was equal parts Ter­ry Gilliam sci-fi prop and James Dyson vac­u­um clean­er.

Terry Gilliam × James Dyson

We worked with Aldo Hoeben on this project. He was respon­si­ble for the design and devel­op­ment of the balls as well as the soft­ware behind them. The cool thing about work­ing with Aldo was that he has a back­ground in indus­tri­al design, has an artis­tic prac­tice focused on pro­jec­tion map­ping and panoram­ic pho­tog­ra­phy and is a 3D print­ing enthu­si­ast to boot. In oth­er words, his unique set of skills was a per­fect match for the chal­lenges of this project.

It was Aldo who start­ing from my Gilliam-Dyson direc­tion cre­at­ed the bright­ly coloured cus­tom 3D-print­ed parts which give Cam­parc its con­struc­tivist look. It is an aspect of the project I am still very proud of. More than once dur­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with a play­er about ‘how it works’ was I able to sim­ply point to every sin­gle com­po­nent and talk them through it.

Detail of Camparc's 3D-printed components

Anoth­er neat aspect of the balls is that all the hard­ware is sus­pend­ed in a ‘poor man’s gyro­scope’. The weight of all the com­po­nents keeps the cam­era more or less upright all the time. The wob­bli­ness of the cam­era gives the images some wel­come dynamism, empha­sis­ing that you are indeed look­ing at footage from a rolling ball.

Anamorphic Puzzles

Through­out the project and actu­al­ly still now, there is a ten­sion between free and direct­ed play. We were inter­est­ed in giv­ing peo­ple a shared bit of ludic pub­lic fur­ni­ture. But we were also curi­ous what kind of games could be played with this new play­thing. In addi­tion, we were very inter­est­ed in tak­ing over the area we would be play­ing in with some kind of visu­al mark­ings.

One obvi­ous start­ing point for a more struc­tured play­ful activ­i­ty to offer play­ers was anamor­pho­sis: “a dis­tort­ed pro­jec­tion or per­spec­tive requir­ing the view­er to use spe­cial devices or occu­py a spe­cif­ic van­tage point to recon­sti­tute the image.”

Geometric perspective-localized painting by Felice Varini

The Cam­parc balls would be stream­ing a donut-shaped video to an LED trail­er in the mid­dle of the play area. We thought it would be cool to cre­ate geo­met­ric draw­ings that would appear to float in the cam­era image.

As is often the case in our projects, we then need­ed to invent a process that would enable us to do this. In the end we man­aged to pull it off with an inter­est­ing assem­blage of off-the-shelf soft­ware and hard­ware and lots of mask­ing tape and patience.

We used an iPhone on a tri­pod with the same panoram­ic lens attached to it as we would be using inside of the balls. We made sure the lens was more or less at the same height as it would be in the ball. Using air­play we then streamed the cam­era view to a mac­book and we used a sim­ple app to over­lay the image we would be draw­ing on top of the cam­era feed.

Camparc anamorphic drawing test

Then it was a mat­ter of find­ing a nice spot to draw our anamor­phic puz­zle and mask­ing it out (which involves lots of check­ing and recheck­ing between the draw­ing and the image on the mac­book screen). At the game’s run on Stri­jp-S we used spray chalk to fill in the shapes.

A shout-out to our friends at Pony Design Club who did an excel­lent job on all the visu­al mate­ri­als for Cam­parc and who also painstak­ing­ly cre­at­ed the final set of anamor­phic puz­zles at Stri­jp-S for the game’s event.

Anamorphic drawing at Strijp-S

The end result looked very inter­est­ing and peo­ple enjoyed fig­ur­ing out how to place the ball exact­ly so that the image kind of popped into view on the big screen.

People playing with anamorphic puzzle

A Tribute to ‘Planet Pass’

I could not let the oppor­tu­ni­ty pass to stage a trib­ute to one of our sources of inspi­ra­tion, the New Games move­ment. So in addi­tion to free play with the ball and the anamor­phic puz­zles, we sched­uled a few games of Plan­et Pass with the peo­ple in atten­dance.

It was a rather glo­ri­ous expe­ri­ence. We also cap­tured the footage from these ses­sions, a few clips of which made their way into the final video.

'Planet Pass' in the New Games book

Camparc

I found it very inter­est­ing to see how we man­aged to get an increas­ing­ly large group of peo­ple to join us just by start­ing to play the game and invit­ing peo­ple to help us out. The scale of the Cam­parc balls affords col­lab­o­ra­tive play so very eas­i­ly. Out­side of the Plan­et Pass ses­sions there were many occa­sions where peo­ple would spon­ta­neous­ly start to play togeth­er.

Camparc

This is anoth­er qual­i­ty of the project that I am rather fond of. Cam­parc is a play­ful tech­nol­o­gy which very ele­gant­ly lets peo­ple step into and out of play­ing alone or togeth­er.

Mark II

So that is the sto­ry of the mak­ing of Cam­parc. After this first ver­sion we were com­mis­sioned to improve on it. This sec­ond ver­sion, which we decid­ed to name ‘Cam­parc Mark II’, was released as part of the STRP bien­ni­al. The most notable change is that we exchanged the large screen for a VR head­set. Once again we encoun­tered many chal­lenges dur­ing the mak­ing-of. But that is a sto­ry for anoth­er day…

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Week 318

Let’s start at the end. On Thurs­day and Fri­day I par­tic­i­pat­ed in a two-day work­shop on the future of ener­gy at Free­dom­Lab. Mean­while, Alper moved apart­ments. I learned a lot about the nuts and bolts of our ener­gy sys­tem and came away opti­mistic about the switch to renew­ables. Alper learned a lot about how to get a wash­ing machine down a flight of stairs.

Ear­li­er in the week I attend­ed the first of a series of co-cre­ation ses­sions organ­ised by State of Flux, aimed at devel­op­ing a new tem­po­rary pro­gram for the Buik­sloter­meer­plein area in Ams­ter­dam Noord. I was there to observe their process. Once all the ses­sions have fin­ished we will devel­op a con­cept for a trans­la­tion of this process to a table­top game, the aim of which is to enable oth­ers to repro­gram the pub­lic spaces they make use of every­day with­out expert help. This is project HENDO.

On the Free Birds front we pre­pared the lat­est release for dis­tri­b­u­tion to the Air­borne Muse­um. The game now allows play­ers to share game con­tent to Muse­umkids and we had to make sure it also works with that website’s live envi­ron­ment. Mean­while, Alper spent some time research­ing how best to go about imple­ment­ing a future improve­ment to the game’s chat user inter­face.

On to our side projects: We sent out a Bycatch newslet­ter to cus­tomers and sub­scribers. (Sign up here to receive the next one.) For Cup­pings, Alper and Simon made a list of final things to fix for the next big release.

Over the week­end I head­ed over to Ianus to lend a hand with his annu­al apple har­vest and Alper had cof­fee and beers with @neb and friends.

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Week 317

A qui­et week for once, now that we have wrapped up most of the cur­rent projects on deck. The slow­er pace took some get­ting used to even though it is a wel­come change from the con­stant pres­sure of the past few months.

On the Free Birds front, we made some final fix­es to the build we fin­ished the week before. The client came over to the stu­dio for a sprint review which went very smooth­ly. Lat­er in the week the team con­vened for a ret­ro­spec­tive which once again yield­ed some use­ful learn­ings to apply to our process in sprints to come. By the end of the week we had groomed our back­log a bit so that we are all ready for the next and final phase of the project.

For Bycatch, we pre­pared a newslet­ter to be sent out soon (sign up here). We talked to Lekha about her expe­ri­ences at XOXO. The game was a big suc­cess at the table­top event. We also ful­filled some more orders and I took some time to make our web­site fav­i­con reti­na with thanks to Mr. Gru­ber.

Alper made use of the down­time to do some work on a next release of Cup­pings which I’m told will drop soon. He also had Loren­zo over for a sneak pre­view of his talk on Japan­ese minigames.

Lorenzo Pilia talking about Japanese minigames

Final­ly, Alper put some words togeth­er on his blog about con­ver­sa­tion­al user inter­faces, a trend we’ve been fol­low­ing and also apply­ing to some recent projects, includ­ing KOKORO and Free Birds.

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